Indian-Nepali cooking is all about fragrance, as you can tell the second you walk in a sub-continental restaurant. At Himalayan Kitchen, the mouthwatering incense hits you when you walk in the door. You can almost see those fingers forming and luring you in.



Every Indian-Nepali chef makes their own spice blend; it's not something you will ever be able to find at a grocery store. But you will be able to buy the blend made in Himalayan Kitchen's kitchen. Three different blends, actually, each one ground by hand: Vegetable Curry Masala, Toasted Curry Masala and Birayani Masala. HK owners Surya and Carmen Bastakoti sent me samples of all three, along with recipes translated, as Carmen says, "from Chef' Bim's Nepali to Surya's Nepali English to English."

Here's the one I tried:

4 oz. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. finely minced ginger
1 medium onion, sliced
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 1/2 lbs. chicken, cut in chunks
2 tsp. HK Toasted Curry Masala
2 or 3 chopped tomatoes
3-4 cups water
2-3 tsp. salt
4-6 cups basmati rice
1/4 coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil. Toast the ginger, then add the garlic and onion and cook until onion is transparent. Add chicken and cook until white. Add Masala, stir in salt, add the chopped tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes. Add the water and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Serve over rice. Top with cilantro.

First, my kitchen and the whole house smelled deliciously like Himalayan Kitchen.

Second, this was really easy. So easy Rachael Ray could have done it.

Thirdly, I ate recently at Himalayan Kitchen, and as usual, was impressed. Not only are they constantly tweaking and updating the menu (unlike a lot of Indian restaurants where the selections are set in stone) but they do the same with the place itself. Recently, Surya asked the chef to bring back some timur, a pepper that has a tingly effect on the palate, similar to Szechuan pepper–taste it in the vegan momo sauce. And try the momos filled with bison.